WESTBROOK (WGME) – An ambitious new project in Westbrook is moving forward.
In a unique and complex deal, developers have secured millions of dollars to transform an abandoned quarry in the city.
The plan is to build housing, shopping, and a concert venue.
Developers now have $14 million to move this massive project forward.
They struck a first of its kind deal with the city and state to get tax free financing, money to start working on upgrades to turnpike exits and roads, all needed for this development to happen.
Covered with snow and ice, right now the 100-acre site in Westbrook isn't much to look at, but the "Waterstone Properties Group" wants to turn the old Westbrook gravel quarry into Rock Row, a 2 million square foot development with apartments, concerts, and stores.
The first tenant was announced last year, a Market Basket grocery store.
Developers say the project has very strong momentum.
And they're trying something that hasn't been done before in Maine, a public-private partnership to get better interest rates and $14 million in tax-free bonds.
The Finance Authority of Maine was a key partner in making it happen.
“They have a good plan here,” Bill Norbert of the Finance Authority of Maine said. “It's a win for everyone really, the city, developer, public infrastructure, citizens.
The bond financing is backed by what's known as a tax financing district.
City councilors gave the project that designation.
It means for 25 years, half of the new property tax revenue goes directly back to the project to pay off the loan.
“What's great about it, there's no liability on the part of the state or taxpayer for this in case the bonds go belly up or people can't pay them back,” Norbert said. “We're not on the hook, but we did allow access to lower cost financing for the developers.”
Developers say the work on the roads and exits is already underway for this multi-year project.
They're also putting up a temporary stage on the site for concerts this summer. Seven are already booked, and this week the city council approved a liquor license for those events.